Bhubaneswar, Nov 18: While keeping a watch on the erstwhile Janata Parivar members, Biju Janata Dal president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday asked his party MPs in Lok Sabha to maintain equi-distance from both Congress and BJP and raise state-related issues in Parliament.
"It has been decided to raise issues purely in the interest of the state. We will also continue to maintain equi-distance from both Congress and BJP," BJD leader in Lok Sabha Bhartuhari Mahatab said after attending a meeting of BJD Lok Sabha members.
Patnaik presided over the meeting ahead of the winter session of the Parliament starting next week.
Mahatab said BJD MPs would specifically raise issues like non-availability of central assistance for cyclone Phailin in 2013 and cyclone Hudhud in 2014, compensation for the state owing to CST, Jan Dhan Yojana, opening of bank branches in rural areas, central assistance for infrastructure projected related to Nabakalebara festival and above all the long standing demand of special category status for Odisha.
The state's demand of opening a barnch of NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences), IT Region and amendment to the MMDR Act and others would also be raised.
"It has been decided to raise issues relating to state's interest," Patnaik told reporters after the meeting.
Of the 20 Lok Sabha MPs of BJD, 18 including newly elected MP from Kandhamal Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh participated. However, two members - Arjun Charan Sethi and Rama Chandra Hansda - could not attend.
While Sethi could could not come here due to cataract operation, Hansda is in jail after being arrested by CBI in a multi-crore chitfund scam.